Bamboo and Cork Flooring Installation Guide

These two flooring materials are often mentioned together because they are the two leading green-friendly products currently popular. Both Cork and Bamboo offer their own individual looks, as we'll as there own installation techniques. 

This guide will mostly concentrate on how to install Cork flooring. Bamboo is installed with the same techniques and tools as Hardwood flooring. The planks can be either nailed down or glued. Interlocking bamboo flooring is not available that produces a floating floor however.

In this guide to Bamboo and Cork flooring, we’ll discuss the installation process and help you decide if installing this type of home flooring is right for you. You can also learn more by reading the detailed Buying Guide, or our owners guide to Maintenance and Care.

Tools and Supplies

  • Power Tools – For bamboo, you’ll need a circular saw or a table saw to cut planks lengthwise. For cross cuts, a table saw or a miter saw works well. A jigsaw or coping saw is best for trimming around obstacles such as floor vents and doorways.
  • Flooring Nailer – If you are nailing the material, an air compressor and nailer save time over hand-nailing. A drill can be handy for creating pilot holes for nailing pieces in tight spots where you can’t get the nailer into position.
  • Basic Hand Tools – A tape measure, pencil and framing square are useful for installation of both bamboo and cork flooring. If you’re gluing cork or bamboo, a glue trowel will allow you to put down the right quantity of glue. For installation over plywood, an orbital sander will be handy. 

Prepping the Floor for Installation

For any type of flooring, getting the subflooring very clean and free of debris is essential. Start by removing the baseboard trim from the room. Then, remove carpeting, padding, tack strip and staples if needed. Sand any rough spots, and if it is concrete, fill in any significant cracks. You can glue cork to concrete, wood flooring and wood subfloor. If the subfloor is plywood, sand it with gritty sandpaper to rough it up just a bit. This will enhance adherence of the glue.

Installation Techniques

 Here is a step by step guide to cork flooring installation.

Step 3: Plan to start along the longest exterior wall in the room. Before applying glue, mask finished surfaces adjacent to the floor. Apply the adhesive with a brush or glue trowel. If you prefer, you can use a foam roller for applying adhesive to larger areas. Read the instructions on your adhesives carefully.

Step 4: Lay the first cork tile or strip along the wall. Butt the tiles/strips as you go, until you complete your first row. If they are strips, say 12”x24”, you may want to consider an alternate approach. Install the first tile lengthwise so that the long side is against the wall. Install the second piece so that the 12” side is against the wall. Complete the first row alternating long and short sides against the wall. You can practice laying strips before you apply any glue to see which look you prefer.

Step 5: If using strips, start the second row with by butting the short end of the strip to the first row. This will produce staggered seams rather than seam that align. That will leave a half-strip gap. Cut a strip in half to fill it. Then, continue with this technique to complete the second row. The end result will be seams that are more random. 

Of course, if you’re using square tiles, then this technique does not apply.

Step 6: For cutting cork flooring, a tough utility knife works very well. You’ll use it for trimming around floor vents and doorways, and for cutting pieces to fit as you approach the opposite side of the room from which you started.

Finishing The Job

Once all the flooring is down and finished, let it dry completely. Then, you can reinstall floor trim and toe-kicks around the room.